Then & Now: A Story About Friendship and Mental Illness
It was six years ago that I had my first major episode with Bipolar 2 while in College. I was living with a group of girls who this story is about. In the last month before I withdrew from school, I kept my struggle hidden from others, especially myself. Two days before I left, my parents were called by 2 of my friends. They told them that I was falling apart. Day by day I was getting worse. They realized they couldn’t help me, and decided not to tell the other girls. I do not like to talk about the pain of the past. However, a few days ago I learned that sometimes it is necessary to walk down memory lane, no matter how dark the road is…
This past weekend, I reconnected with friends who I hadn’t seen since the day I withdrew from school. Jenny, one of my best friends, planned the weekend. When we arrived to the house, we poured a cocktail, and sat outside. After an hour of blabbing, I heard little footsteps behind me. When I turned, my heart dropped. Sophie was walking towards me. Sophie and I were inseparable during my time in Boston. I hadn’t seen her since the day I left school. When I saw her I could have dropped to my knees. We all sat outside. It was just like it used to be. We reminisced about our lives over the last six years. It was magical. We laughed, we loved, we danced. However, I knew at some point I was going to have to confront what happened six years ago. On the second night we walked outside to sit on the patio. We pulled out a bottle of wine, a pack full of cigarettes and started to talk…
I let them lead the conversation (this is very rare). Sophie revealed to me her confusion over the last six years. As I saw her crumble in tears, I realized that it was not only me that needed closure, it was her. It was all of my friends. The day I had left, I closed that chapter, and refused to finish it. I had given them no explanation for my emotional episodes or distant behavior. I smiled as they walked out the door, and when they came back, I was gone.
Sophie looked towards me for some sort of reaction, and explained what she remembered about the day I left…
I was walking back from class. Someone called out to me and said, “Somethings going on with Hannah. She is outside of the health center crying and screaming about how she can’t take it anymore. She doesn’t want to live.” I couldn’t believe it. I kept walking, and then you were just gone, and I never knew what happened…
I have no recollection of this time.
You don’t remember Hannah? Jenny asked.
No. I don’t.
I sat there in disbelief. It was the first time in years I had to confront the darkest time of my life. With tears in her eyes Sophie asked me the question I had been dreading for 6 years. I revealed to her what happened and why it occurred.
Please tell me what happened?
I told her the details of what happened that day. I am still hesitant to share this part of my story publicly. She cried so hard I thought she would break. We all sat there in silence. The next day we woke up in one bed with smiles ear to ear. When we all separated, we hugged each other longer than we ever had.
Six years ago I met a group of girls, who, little did I know, would save me from myself. People who loved me so much they were willing to take the leap with me. They had to look at an empty room not knowing if the person they used to see dancing would ever be the same again. It built a strength in all of us, and an unbreakable bond. No matter the distance, we have a story unlike any other. We had no idea what we were doing or who we would become in the future. All we knew is that we loved each other, and one of us was slowly withering away. We are not friends, we are soulmates. This past weekend I realized that reflecting on our struggle is not something to be feared. It is an epic part of our story, and deserves to be shared. It is no longer my story, it is our story. A story about friendship, strength and genuine love.
To Jenny, Sophie, Michelle, Kim, Cayla, Alex, Katie, Cody & Kara. Thank you for never giving up on me, always supporting me and loving me endlessly. I would not be here without you.
It is important for those of us who have struggled with our mental health to understand that we are not the only ones hurting in these situations. The people around us suffer, and have their own story that deserves to be heard. If you have a friend who is struggling with their mental health. Please look to my H2H Support Page or H2H Resource Page! Don’t give up on those you love.